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Appealing Websites vs. Websites That Are Appealing to Your Audiences

Every once in a while, even a blind dog finds a bone. So let’s say a prospect finds your Web site: Does it have what it takes to make them take action? To make them decide to choose your product or service? Does it deliver that all-important ROI? At Austin & Williams, we know how people make decisions – online and off. Here’s some of what we’ve learned about how to create an effective, ROI-generating Web site:

  1. Start with a rock-solid strategy. In a typical Web development process, we often rush to the creative stage (the proverbial “look & feel”) because we can see it. It’s easy to mistake an aesthetically pleasing Web design for an effective one. However, digital marketing  is about determining your strategic goals and thinking about the ways in which your Web site will strategically parallel your brand promise. Make no mistake though; it also needs to dovetail your offline brand attributes.
  2. Be “user”-focused, not “you”-focused. The purpose of your Web site is not about this technology or that Flash movie. It is not about promoting a new product or upcoming event. It’s all about building a community and creating a relationship between your company and your most important audiences, clients and customers. The prospect needs to walk away saying “I like them and I trust them,” otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself.
  3. Guarantee an engaging experience. Web visitors today expect movement, exciting visuals and video. They demand fresh, new content – always.  A stale, static site will stand out, but not in a good way.
  4. Design with your perfect end-user in mind. Different audiences look for uniquely different information when they visit your site. Our research shows that if you don’t deliver it in three clicks, you most likely lost a lead.  How do you develop the perfect portal? You do some external research. It doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, but it needs to be done. Armed with that information, you can build your site and fill it with the appropriate content.
  5. Be intuitive. Don’t use “internal speak” anywhere on your site. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. They don’t know your business jargon and shouldn’t have to learn it. The same applies to how the site is constructed.
  6. Be easy to navigate. If your users can’t find what they want in three clicks, they’re history. At its most basic, information architecture is all about how Web sites are organized. Keep it simple. One of the biggest mistakes companies make on their sites is putting everything and the kitchen sink into it. Web sites are qualifiers – keep them simple and succinct with an obvious call to action.
  7. Focus on content. Relevant and current content is at the center of all Web transactions today. Users look for, talk about and share content that engages them on a significant and personal level. When you can consistently deliver that experience, you’re well on your way to developing a loyal following.
  8. Be well-written. Don’t fool yourself – brochure copy is not web copy. Site visitors prefer to skim, not read. Be concise and to the point. Break copy into short paragraphs—digestible buckets of information—and use pull quotes and bulleted lists to help deliver a clear, concise message.
  9. Be brand compliant. This is done through content, tone, visuals and features. Integrate your site messaging with other marketing communications to achieve a cohesive message. Utilization of colors, fonts, look and feel, tone and voice can go a long way in helping build a cohesive brand that fuels a return on your investment.
  10. Drive qualified traffic, not “tire kickers.” Once you build a great site, it doesn’t mean visitors will come. Effective sites have a strategy in place to drive qualified traffic. 20 percent of visitors to your site come via the keyword buy, but 80 percent come through natural or organic search (Google loves this), so invest in search engine optimization (SEO). It’s the smartest way to get your site some traction.
  11. Track results and evaluate ROI. Don’t just collect data, use it to guide the development and evolution of your Web strategy and tactical implementations. The beauty of a Web site is it’s a continual “work in progress,” updates should be easy to allow you to collect the data, and massage your content and quick links, your targets will thank you!

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Chief Executive Officer

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